Workplace peer educators and stress

  • David Dickinson Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, PO Box 98, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Kabelo Duncan Kgatea Anglo Platinum, Rustenburg Section, PO Box 492, Tlhabane 0309, South Africa


Peer educators form an important component of company responses to HIV and AIDS. Based on interviews with peer educators working in and around a mining company in South Africa's North-West Province, the study examines the relationship between involvement in peer education and stress. The paper discusses how becoming a peer educator can be a response to the often personal stress brought about by the HIV epidemic. In addition, structural difficulties, skills deficiencies and other obstacles to effective communication with their peers can create stress. The stress that active peer education brings to individuals is discussed, particularly in regard to the embeddedness of peer educators within their communities. The need for confidentiality also magnifies stress in the case of individuals who disregard peer educators' advice. Peer educators face many stresses in managing and supporting their own lives, thus their (voluntary) work as peer educators should not be taken out of context. Using this approach, we discuss how the role of peer educator should be conceptualised and how they can be organised and supported in order that their stress be minimised and effective engagement maximised.

Keywords: case study; coping; health beliefs; health programmes; HIV/AIDS; mining industry; peer education; South Africa; support services

African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(3): 293–303

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445